Architecture and Fire, A Psychoanalytic Approach to Conservation

Posted on November 08, 2019 by Alison Fox

This book deals closely with fire. The nature of this element and our perception of it are ambiguous: fire is both good and evil. The French philosopher Gaston Bachelard speculates that fire must have been the first object of reverie. The child of an early civilisation must have contemplated silently in front of flames, which is an attitude towards fire that is also witnessed today. Bachelard also reminds us that our knowledge of fire is not only limited but also taken for granted. We mainly learn about it through prohibition, from the elders. Architecture and Fire is therefore an attempt to compile information about fire, both as an element and a concept, through the engagement with sources from diverse disciplines aiming to illuminate our scattered and obscure knowledge of it. 

Architecture and Fire opens and closes with Black Umbrella, a 16mm film triptych depicting the burning of the Crystal Palace in 1934, the flying bomb raids in Central and East London in the 1940s, and the fire at the Houses of Parliament in 1958. All three films are made with discarded archive material that was discovered accidentally in a disused fire station in London. Black Umbrella touches on themes central to this book including the role of archives in the preservation of memory and the destruction of buildings by fire. It also signals the breadth of contemporary discourse on the concept of the archive.

As the title clearly suggests, this is a book on ‘architecture and fire’, a topic that has sadly received unprecedented attention in recent years. Every city in the world has at some point been scarred by a catastrophic fire incident. The fire at Grenfell Tower in London, at Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art, in the outskirts of Athens, at the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro or at Notre-Dame in Paris are just a few recent accidents that have not only shocked audiences worldwide but also awakened an interest in reassessing our understanding of how architecture, the urban landscape and societies together remember and respond to the continual risk of fire.

Finally, Architecture and Fire engages with two disciplines that are not traditionally studied alongside one another: architecture and psychoanalysis. It offers a reading of architectural conservation through Freudian psychoanalysis and specifically through the drives theory. This interdisciplinary approach aims to reassess key theoretical paradoxes and inconsistencies associated with conservation.

Stamatis Zografos

Author, Architecture and Fire, available as a free download

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Open Access Week 2019

Posted on October 22, 2019 by Alison Fox

A round-up of recent developments

With Open Access Week 2019 upon us it is worth having a round-up of the plethora of  activities, announcements and reports that have recently been announced, in particular in the world of open access monographs.

The most recent is the Open Access and Monographs Evidence Review from the Universities UK Open Access Monographs Working Group, which provides a summary of findings from their activities over the last couple of years.

The report draws on a quantitative analysis of the current landscape of long-form publications in the higher education sector, and its engagement with more than 90 organisations at two events, and puts forward a set of stakeholder recommendations to be considered as part of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Research Excellence Framework (REF) Open Access reviews.

And related to the UUK OA Monographs Evidence Review, the British Academy has published a report on open access book chapters which examines the book chapter’s role within the research and publication profiles of different academic disciplines, and includes a quantitative analysis drawing on data about projects funded by UKRI Research Councils and on returns to REF 2014.

In June 2019, Digital Science released a report, The State of Open Monographs, which surveyed the current status of OA monographs and makes recommendations for how publishers and funders can support a transition to increased OA for monographs, through greater use of digital infrastructures and systems such as DOIs for example, and via appropriate levels of funding.

While not specifically an open access report, the recent global survey by Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press on the scholarly monograph confirms that for scholars of Humanities and Social Sciences, the monograph remains a vital part of the scholarly ecosystem, albeit with concerns expressed about the pressure to publish and unintended consequences of ever-increasing numbers of monographs published and the challenge of maintaining quality.

In the last few months, several grants have been awarded to open access initiatives including an award made by Research England of £2.2m to Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM), a partnership of university libraries and academic-led publishers. COPIM plans to transform open access book publishing by moving away from a model of competing commercial operations to a more horizontal and cooperative, knowledge-sharing approach.

In August, Arcadia awarded $2.2m to Educopia to support a partnership between Educopia Institute, California Digital Library (CDL), the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), Longleaf Services, LYRASIS, and Strategies for Open Science (Stratos). The partnership will work to advance library publishing and rival the current commercial infrastructure. It will help to develop new, cost-effective and community-governed publishing tools and services for authors, editors and readers. And in October, Arcadia awarded $850,000 to MIT Press  to develop and pilot a sustainable framework for open access monographs.

And there was also news for learned societies, with ALPSP, Wellcome Trust and UKRI launching their independent report and transformative agreement toolkit to support learned society publishers transition to immediate open access and align with Plan S.

Here at UCL Press, we are delighted to have published 120 open access monographs since we launched in 2015. In that time we’ve achieved global download figures approaching 2.5 million. Our most downloaded title is How the World Changed Social Media, which has achieved nearly 360,000 downloads; and our Textbook of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has had over 70,000. We are proud to have taken our research to 230 countries. You can take a look at the statistics for every book we’ve published.

We wish everyone a Happy Open Access Week and look forward to seeing how the announcements and developments outlined above play out in the coming months.

Lara Speicher
Head of Publishing, UCL Press

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OA Anthropology journals workshop, LSE, September 2019

Posted on October 04, 2019 by Alison Fox

In September, LSE held a one-day workshop organized by Dr Andrea Pia (LSE Anthropology), and funded by the LSE Department of Anthropology through the Research Infrastructure and Investment Fund, to share and discuss models for open access journal publishing in anthropology, with participants invited from a range of institutions and backgrounds. Presentations by a number of OA journal editors were followed by speakers from open access publishers and platforms, and from institutional libraries.

Journal editors introduced the structure of their publication outlets, their OA models and intended audience. They also reflected on the challenges they face in running an OA publication and the measures they put in place to overcome those challenges.

Among the journals presented were Made in China, Water Alternatives, British Journal of Chinese Studies, Allegralab, Entanglements, Journal of Political Ecology, ANUAC and Roadsides. The majority of the journals presented were standalone OA journals, run independently by the editors and their editorial boards, and several common themes emerged: the lack of funding available – either no funding, little funding, or funding in the form of short-term grants; and the amount of unpaid work involved by the editors and their associates (the term ‘labour of love’ was mentioned in many of the presentations). Some found securing submissions a challenge, and were hampered in their efforts by their lack of impact factor, which deterred many potential authors. Models such as the geography journal ACME were highlighted as an example of a journal that actively refuses to participate in impact factor systems, and for many present in the room IF was not considered significant.

On a more positive note, the independence of many of these journals was felt to offer the freedom to experiment, either in terms of the nature and subject matter of the content itself or in terms of the affordances of online publishing, which allows for audio-visual components and unlimited images. Some of the presentations focussed not only on open access and the limitations of commercial publishing models, but also the limitations of academia in which creativity and passion – the very reasons many of the speakers entered academia – can be stifled by policy and evaluation. For mid- or late-career academics, the journals and their alternative models were seen by some as a publishing option where they had the freedom to publish what they wanted, an option that many early career researchers, often in precarious academic positions, would not feel able to participate in due to the pressure to publish in established outlets. So despite the challenges, this form of publishing was seen as a positive by many, engendering community spirit and the positive outcomes of collective endeavour.

The publishers and platforms who gave presentations – UCL Press, LSE Press, Libraria and Knowledge Unlatched – offered an alternative view, where larger-scale OA initiatives were supported at institutional level or through crowd-funded alternatives such as global library subscriptions, to enable open access publishing to happen on a bigger scale. While the benefits of these models were clear in terms of the support that they can offer academics with open access publishing and the higher volume of outputs they can deliver, many researchers at the meeting questioned whether scale was necessary or even desirable and emphasised the importance to them of freedom and independence in their endeavours.

Academic-led open access publishing forms an important part of the OA ecosystem, encouraging culture change and experimentation. For many academics, it clearly also contributes to a sense of personal satisfaction and the ability to pursue one’s passion and beliefs, although greater access to funding to undertake these kinds of publications would clearly be welcome.

Lara Speicher, Head of Publishing, UCL Press

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